Chrysler considering new Voyager van, according to report
As minivans‘ share of the automotive market continues to decline, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles faces some tough decisions about the future of FCA’s Windsor, Ontario assembly plant where those people movers are built.
Industry analyst Joe McCabe, of AutoForecast Solutions, believes FCA will introduce an entry-level minivan to replace the Dodge Grand Caravan, and that FCA will revive the Voyager nameplate for that new vehicle.
Currently, FCA is following a two-handed approach at Windsor, making the relatively new Chrysler Pacifica while continuing to produce the Dodge Grand Caravan, which is based on an older platform, there. As the Caravan continues to age, FCA must decide if it will continue the two-vehicle strategy, and if it does make that decision, what it will make to replace the Caravan.
Automotive News reported in March that part of the $350 milion that FCA allocated to upgrade the Windsor facility is being used to prepare for making an all-wheel-drive Pacifica, according to sources at the Unifor labor union that represents FCA’s Canadian workers. The union also says that additional future product will be planned for Windsor to keep the plant sustainable.
Ostensibly, adding AWD to the Pacifica would allow it to better compete with the SUVs that currently dominate the automotive scene. The Toyota Sienna is the only minivan on sale now in North America that offers AWD. Packaging both an AWD drivetrain and Chrysler’s popular Stow ‘n Go folding rear seats in the same vehicle, though, might pose a challenge when it comes to finding space for all of the components. And that’s without even considering the Pacifica Hybrid.
Although the minivan market is shrinking, McCabe believes that it would be a mistake for Chrysler to walk away from that segment as Ford and GM have done. Last year, FCA sold 118,322 Pacificas in the United States, and 151,927 Caravans, taking 56 percent of the minivan market here.
“They just can’t afford to risk that foothold that they have in the minivan space,” McCabe told Automotive News. “They have to make sure they backfill the more cost-conscientious Caravan buyer.”
A new Voyager, no matter what brand it would arrive under, would be an unexpected return for the van that once saved Chrysler and changed the family vehicle forever.